Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The journey home

I'm in the Christchurch airport, waiting for my flight to Sydney. I've already hit the first delay of this leg of the trip, but I've got a lot of layover time so it shouldn't be a problem.

In my last blog post I was flying to McMurdo. I obviously made it there

Unlike most people's picture of Antarctica, McMurdo is on the coast and was EXTREMELY warm. The temperature was around 32 degrees when I got there!

I did get to see penguins...

but they were in a display case in Crary, the main science building.

Since we had an entire day in McMurdo, I decided to spend the afternoon on an excursion to Scott Base (the New Zealand base near McMurdo). I told Gonzalo my plans, and Stefan walked up while we were discussing it and said he'd like to go. While I was leaving, one of the South Pole Telescope people started talking to Gonzalo and Stefan. When I showed up at 3PM, half of the people from the Pole flight were waiting to walk to Scott Base!

Scott Base is a decent hike, about 45 minutes over a small mountain. Most of the hike is along a road but the last half mile or so is a trail down a kind of steep slope.

The view is pretty spectacular. The ice from the bay pushing into shore near Scott Base makes for some dramatic scenery.

The day we left McMurdo we were asked to report to the Cargo building at 6:45AM. Of course, any Antarctica flight involves waiting, so we got onto Ivan the TerraBus by around 7:30, trundled out to the airfield and then stood around waiting to see if our flight would take off. Over the bus driver's radio I heard them say the weather in Christchurch was starting to look bad so he should wait with us in case the flight was cancelled.

One pleasant surprise was that we ran into a few IceCube people who were on their way to the Pole (the poor suckers!) They had shown up at Cargo at around 5:30AM and were still waiting for their plane! We chatted a bit and then they were called to grab their stuff and get on a shuttle to their plane. I haven't heard, but I think they made it to Pole on their first try.

We finally were loaded onto our plane, which was packed elbow-to-elbow with passengers. A short 8 hour flight later, we were back in New Zealand. We went through customs, walked back to the CDC to drop off our ECW gar, then ... waited half an hour or so for a shuttle to the hotel.

I was in my hotel room by around 7PM. I grabbed a bite to eat, repacked for the trip home, then took a shower (to cut through the first couple of layers of grime) and then a half hour BATH!!! I got to bed by around 10PM so I could wake up and dash out the door for my 5:15AM shuttle to the airport.

Now just 4 flights stand between me and home!

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